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The Pouakai Circuit

The Pouakai Circuit

The Pouakai circuit has become one of the most popular tramping routes in Egmont National Park and though it is promoted as a 2 day tramp it can easily be done in a single day taking 9 to 10 hours.  I first tramped this circuit in the 1970s with my father. In those days it was not really developed as a full circuit and the track over Henry peak was nothing more than a steep and treacherous mud slide. 

I last tramped this route in March 2017. It really is a great route covering a whole range of different forest and sub alpine zones including a crossing of Ahukawakawa, the great swamp area lying between the Pouakai ranges and Taranaki. The views that open up from different parts of this track are truly inspiring.


I started out predawn in order to see the sunrise from the section of the round the mountain track running below Deifenbach cliffs. 

The Sun Rising Above Razor Back Ridge.

The track climbs to a high point where it crosses the Kokowai ridge before descending to Holly hut.  This section of track is currently closed due to slips so the route can currently only be complted by taking the Kokowai ridge track.

Looking Up At Taranaki From the Kokowai Ridge.

This section of track in the sub alpine zone is covered in wild flowers.

From Holly hut the track descends down into the swamp crossing it on board walks. On the far side of the swamp there is a bridge across the head waters of the stony river before the track climbs steeply up one of the ridge lines to the top of the Pouakai ranges.

The head waters of the Stony River flowing around the edge of the swamp against the Pouakai ranges.

The track then traverses the top of the pouakais, running beneath the hump and down across the Pouakai Plateau to the Pouakai tarns with great views of Taranaki on the way.

Taranaki and The Hump from the Pouakai Plateau looking down across the swamp (Ahukawakawa)

The smaller of the two Pouakai tarns. 

From the tarns the track crosses the rest of the plateau to skirt around the base of Maude peak and then ascend over Henry peak on well made board walks and ladders.

Taranaki from part way down Henry Peak.

From Henry peak the track descends down into the forest following the left bank of the Kaiawai stream, then runs through the lowland bush to cross the Waiwhakaio river before returning either by the Ram track back to North Egmont or to the Waiwhakaio car park.

A Red Admiral butterfly in the bush above the Kaiawai stream.

Moss covered rocks in one of the forest streams that you cross on the track between the Kaiawai and Waiwhakaio rivers.

In summer the bush and river valleys are full of these beautiful giant bush dragonflies.

3rd Jan 2019 Alec Messenger

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